Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It’s an occasion my husband and I mark by throwing an annual Hanukkah party, a fun and festive celebration where we eat, drink, light candles and invariably do something wrong.

Here are some of my favorite mistakes:

1. Setting things on fire — Hanukkah is a festival of lights, but it can also be an exercise in not burning down the house. When you light the menorah, make sure that only the candle gets lit and not the wooden frame of a nearby hanging wall mirror.

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How to avoid it?  Do not place a lit candle close to any flammable object.

2. Incinerating the latkes — When your spouse warns you not to step away from the stove while you’re frying potato pancakes, listen. You can fill the water pitcher later. One minute too long and your latkes can go from sizzling potato patties to smoldering cow patties.

How to avoid it?  Set the timer:  2 minutes and 45 seconds per side.

3. Starving your guests — If in past years you provided dinner for your guests and this year you decide to switch to “Dreidels and Dessert” don’t be surprised if you find yourself ordering five pizzas half way through your party after friends ask, “Where’s the brisket?”

How to avoid it? If you change your party routine, announce it in bold lettering on the invitation.

4. Unnecessary peeling — If you’re a rookie latke-maker, you might make a mistake of epic proportions, 100 latkes worth to be exact, when you spend hours hand-peeling all of the potatoes.

How to avoid it? Don’t peel the potatoes. Do scrub them well.

5. Overheating your house — Hanukkah generally falls in late November or early December. In many regions, that means the indoor thermostat is jacked up high. It also means that when your fireplace is stoked and your house is filled with people, the temperature will rise so high you can grow orchids in your living room.

How to avoid it?  Turn the thermostat down to a comfortable 68 degrees and open windows as needed.

Wishing all who celebrate a Happy Hanukkah!


When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother.  Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties.  Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist.  Her weekly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs—the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Visit her blog http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/  Follow her on twitter @lisatognola